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Sudeep Sen

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Sudeep Sen







GRAMMAR
 
she has no english;
   her lips round / in a moan ...
.
calligraphy of veins ....
— MERLINDA BOBIS, ‘First Night’
 
My syntax, tightly-wrought
   I struggle to let go,
to let go of its formality,
   of my wishbone
desiring juice its deep marrow,
   muscle, and skin.
 
The sentence finally pronounced
   I am greedy for long drawn-
out vowels, for consonants that
   desire lust, tissue, grey-cells.
I am hungry for love,
   for pleasure, for flight,
 
for a story essaying endlessly — words.
   A comma decides to pr[e]oposition
a full-stop ... ellipses pause, to reflect —
   a phrase decides not to reveal
her thoughts after all — ellipses and
   semi-colons are strange bed-fellows.
 
Calligraphy of veins and words
   require ink, the ink of breath,
of blood — corpuscles speeding
   faster than the loop of serifs ...
the unresolved story of our lives
   in a fast train without terminals.
 
I long only for italicised ellipses ...
   my english is the other, the other
is really english —she has no english;
   her lips round / in a moan —
oval, rich, nuanced, grammar-
   drenched, etched letters of glass.
 

AORTA ART
for Arjun Kalyanpur
 
Onion-pink aorta transforms
   crimson-red — tertiary twigs
split, as installation art revolves
   on its axis. They pose
as radiant organic sculptures,
   made even more stunning
by teleradiology’s intense probe.
   Five-beat rate scans —
magical images of living organs
   captured remotely
from rural health clinics faraway
   from city’s glass-and-steel labs.
Coral-shaped aortas rotate 360°
   in perfect Brownian motion
on vertical hi-res LCD screens —
   scanned images of the diseased.
They are beautiful however —
   illness radiating inner beauty —
hidden architecture, looped,
   dancing in secret helixes.
 
Teleradiology Centre, Bangalore
    
 
GOA HAIKU
for Janet Pierce
 
SHADOW
 
glittering sea-skin
   at mid-day, shadow-dance on
flint-speckled sand dunes
 
FISHERWOMEN
 
the oily plaits of
   bronze-toned fisherwomen, curl —
mimicking herring
 
BREAKFAST
 
diced fresh fruits tumble —
   honey-topped with coconut,
muesli and curd
 
COCKTAIL
 
margarita glass
   rimmed with salt — stings and blanches —
heat of ocean sun
 
SEASIDE
 
beach umbrellas, flags,
   towels, table-cloths flutter
with wind’s roving tide
 
SHACKS
 
shacks stacked side-by-side
   heavy with dub-bass trance mix
compete for custom
 
SUN BATHING
 
topless bodies burn —
   white to flaky ugly brown —
sun scorching secrets
 
SUN BURN
 
skin smarts, sweats — acrid
   air crackles the deep heat of
the slow salving salt
 
STUDIO
 
studio’s chill cool
   air melts blues — deep blue belies
the red heat outside
 
ENERGY
 
deceptive slow pace
   subtly streams into my blood —
sparking life from death
 
 
SAFE
for Chandrahas Choudhury
 
In Room 4, the safe
   embedded in the wall
has not been opened
   in a 150 years.
It has seen history,
   life changing, aging —
but no one knows
   what lies within.
The keyhole looks worn —
   paint-stripped,
pock-marked,
   knife-gouged,
dented scars
   of attempted break-ins
worn openly
   without care.
But what is inside? —
   the first owner’s ashes,
her will, wealth, gold; old
   currencies, lover’s relics?
Perhaps, it is best
   kept as a mystery
in a world where
   there is so little of it.
A spider runs across
   the safe
weaving silver strands —
   nature strings
her own signs
   of preservation,
of protection — a web
   masking talisman.
Flies buzz around
   marking out
their territory
   in an annoying tenor.
Wall’s peeling lime
   flake off, whitewash —
failing to conceal time —
   lose their glue.
A train of ants
   enroute elsewhere
get distracted
   at the keyhole’s gape.
Some tunnel in, but
   even after days on end —
I do not see them
   emerge out again.
 
Gratitude Heritage House,
Pondicherry
 
 
RAGHU RAI PHOTOGRAPH
 
   On a river-bank, abandoned clay-idols
of goddesses wait for their last rites.
  
   An old widow clad in a white cotton sari
looks on, awaiting a similar fate. 
 
   A cow, half-hidden behind a gigantic tree,
her bovine-head resembling a decapitated
 
   hunting trophy, nailed to the trunk.
Everything is calm — the river rippleless —
 
   a boat plies on, lazily. An emaciated
boatman rests on his long bamboo-oar,
 
   waiting for the meagre wealth clay deities 
provide once they dissolve — an ungodly 
 
   immersion in the polluted river. Death, life,
ceremony, sacrifice, serenity, ferocity —
 
   frozen meditatively still, find umbrage
under the scant-leafed large old tree.
 
   Kolkata, misted on the horizon
across the river’s far edge, looms sprawling —
 
   entirely unaware of a captured drama
waiting to unfold at the city’s periphery.

[the above poem have been reprinted with the permission of the author, Sudeep Sen, from his new book, Fractals: New & Selected Poems | Translations: 1980-2015 (London Magazine Editions, U.K.)]

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Feature–Contemporary Indian English Poetry

Editorial
    Editorial: GJV Prasad

Poetry
    Abhay K
    Aishwarya Iyer
    Akhil Katyal
    Amlanjyoti Goswami
    Ananya S Guha
    Arup K Chatterjee
    CS Bhagya
    Debasish Lahiri
    Devdan Chaudhuri
    Dhananjay Singh
    Gertrude Lamare
    Goirick Brahmachari
    Joie Bose
    Maaz bin Bilal
    Malsawmi Jacob
    Meera Sagar
    Nabina Das
    Nitoo Das
    Priya Sarukkai-Chabria
    Rajesh Kumar
    Ranu Uniyal
    rizio yohannan raj
    Rochelle Potkar
    Saima Afreen
    Sanjeev Sethi
    Semeen Ali
    Shelly Bhoil
    Smeetha Bhoumik
    Srilata K
    Sudeep Sen
    Sukrita Paul Kumar
    Sumana Roy
    Tabish Khair
    Taseer Gujral
    Uddipana Goswami
    Usha Akella
    Uttaran Das Gupta
    Vivek Narayanan
    Linda Ashok

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